The Charge of the Media Brigade

Behind the Pentagon’s façade of honourable motives for invading other countries lies a history of promoting violence and covering up atrocities with wars of misinformation. Next stops: Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea.

by John Pilger
Published: Jul. 08, 2010 – New Statesman

The TV anchorwoman was conducting a split-screen interview with a journalist who had volunteered to be a witness at the execution of a man on death row in Utah for 25 years. “He had a choice,” said the journalist, “lethal injection or firing squad.” “Wow!” said the anchorwoman. Cue a blizzard of commercials for fast food, teeth whitener, stomach stapling, the new Cadillac. This was followed by the war in Afghanistan presented by a correspondent sweating in a flak jacket. “Hey, it’s hot,” he said on the split screen. “Take care,” said the anchorwoman. “Coming up” was a reality show in which the camera watched a man serving solitary confinement in a prison’s “hell hole.”

The next morning I arrived at the Pentagon for an interview with one of President Obama’s senior war-making officials. There was a long walk along shiny corridors hung with pictures of generals and admirals festooned in ribbons. The interview room was purpose-built. It was blue and arctic cold, and windowless and featureless except for a flag and two chairs: props to create the illusion of a place of authority. The last time I was in a room like this in the Pentagon a colonel called Hum stopped my interview with another war-making official when I asked why so many innocent civilians were being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then it was in the thousands; now it is more than a million. “Stop tape!” he ordered.

This time there was no Col. Hum, merely a polite dismissal of soldiers’ testimony that it was a “common occurrence” that troops were ordered to “kill every motherf*cker.” The Associated Press, says the Pentagon, spends $4.7 billion on public relations: that is, winning the hearts and minds not of recalcitrant Afghan tribesmen but of Americans. This is known as “information dominance,” and PR people are “information warriors.”

American imperial power flows through a media culture to which the word imperial is anathema. To broach it is heresy. Colonial campaigns are really “wars of perception,” wrote the present commander, Gen. David Petraeus, in which the media popularizes the terms and conditions. “Narrative” is the accredited word because it is post-modern and bereft of context and truth. The narrative of Iraq is that the war is won, and the narrative of Afghanistan is that it is a “good war.” That neither is true is beside the point. They promote a “grand narrative” of a constant threat and the need for permanent war. “We are living in a world of cascading and intertwined threats,” wrote the celebrated New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, “that have the potential to turn our country upside down at any moment.”

Friedman supports an attack on Iran, whose independence is intolerable. This is the psychopathic vanity of great power which Martin Luther King described as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” He was then shot dead.

The psychopathic is applauded across popular, corporate culture, from the TV death watch of a man choosing a firing squad over lethal injection to the Oscar winning Hurt Locker and a new acclaimed war documentary Restrepo. Directors of both films deny and dignify the violence of invasion as “apolitical.” And yet behind the cartoon facade is serious purpose. The U.S. is engaged militarily in 75 countries. There are some 900 U.S. military bases across the world, many at the gateways to the sources of fossil fuels.

But there is a problem. Most Americans are opposed to these wars and to the billions of dollars spent on them. That their brainwashing so often fails is America’s greatest virtue. This is frequently due to courageous mavericks, especially those who emerge from the centrifuge of power. In 1971, military analyst Daniel Ellsberg leaked documents known as the Pentagon Papers which put the lie to almost everything two presidents had claimed about Vietnam. Many of these insiders are not even renegades. I have a section in my address book filled with the names of former officers of the CIA who have spoken out. They have no equivalent in Britain.

Imperialism’s face

In 1993, C. Philip Liechty, the CIA operations officer in Jakarta at the time of Indonesia’s murderous invasion of East Timor, described to me how President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had given the dictator Suharto “ a green light” and secretly supplied the arms and logistics he needed. As the first reports of massacres arrived at his desk, he began to turn. “It was wrong,” he said. “I felt badly.”

Melvin Goodman is now a scholar at Johns Hopkins University in Washington. He was in the CIA more than 40 years and rose to be a senior Soviet analyst. When we met the other day, he described the conduct of the Cold War as a series of gross exaggerations of Soviet “aggressiveness” that willfully ignored the intelligence that the Soviets were committed to avoid nuclear war at all costs. Declassified official files on both sides of the Atlantic support this view. “What mattered to the hardliners in Washington,” he said, “was how a perceived threat could be exploited.” The present secretary of defense, Robert Gates, as deputy director of the CIA in the 1980s, had constantly hyped the “Soviet menace” and is, says Goodman, doing the same today “on Afghanistan, North Korea, and Iran.”

Little has changed. In America, in 1939, W.H. Auden wrote:

“As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives […]
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.”

Source: politics/2010/07/afghanistan-iran-pilger-war


More by John Pilger:

The heresy of the Greeks offers hope

DOCUMENTARY – The War on Democracy by John Pilger

War is peace. Ignorance is strength

DOCUMENTARY – Breaking The Silence – Truth and Lies in the War on Terror by John Pilger

DOCUMENTARY – New Rulers of the World, by John Pilger

The lying game: how we are prepared for another war of aggression

DOCUMENTARY – Palestine is Still the Issue by John Pilger

DOCUMENTARY – Stealing a Nation by John Pilger -2004

Mourn on the 4th of July

INTERVIEW – John Pilger on Democracy Now… (6 Jul. 2009)

Smile on the face of the tiger

DOCUMENTARY – FRONTLINE, In search of truth in war time by John Pilger, 1983 (52 mins.)

VIDEO – Obama & Empire: Power, Illusion & America’s Last Taboo

Obama’s 100 days – the mad men did well

DOCUMENTARY – War by Other Means by John Pilger

PRESENTATION: John Pilger – Freedom Next Time

DOCUMENTARY – “Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq” by John Pilger

Welcome to Orwell’s World 2010

DOCUMENTARY – Pepsi vs Coke in The Ice Cold War by John Pilger

The kidnapping of Haiti

DOCUMENTARY – VIETNAM, The Last Battle by John Pilger (1995)

Have a Nice World War, Folks

3 Comments on “The Charge of the Media Brigade”

  1. Dwight Baker says:

    John good work as always!

    Tomgram: Ellen Cantarow, Blowback Crude

    Innovation in a creative work force was discounted greatly by
    B.F. Skinner
    By Dwight Baker
    7/18/2010 11:14 AM

    Big oil big government big budgets are the result of top down control. Those that get hung up in one of those many things — to do — end up just a round peg in a square hole. Round befits our complex mind in the amount of data that can be stored then retrieved in a heart beat, round allows the many tangents needed to resolve complex problems to work in rapid succession.

    But when the roundness of us is pushed in a square hole then what results is dumb down hired hands —no matter — how far one gets up the ladder. For fear sets in that the one —just up above —can take you out at any time for any reason so suck up becomes the game played and when doing all civility sanity and morality goes out the window.

    Thus the Military is a prime example of just that— look in their faces and you will see suck up and play the damn game or get the axe. B.F. Skinner reduced all of that in his many books/thesis.

    So what we see in big oil and gas today is top driven down mentality and all below the BIG BOSSES are just hired hands that’s all. They goose step to the orders given them and in turn expect the same thing from their assigned groups. It is a depraved sin sick mentality and in that when a problem arises blame is the main function to cover up ones own behind side. Curing of the problem is simply not the main desire. WHY it is fear that radiates out of the hired hands in implementing a cure the thought is “I might just get fired”.

    Many of us talk today about slave / master mentalities. Think about it any one that has a big boss that takes delight in taking others out has fears that he or she might be the next in line.

    Skinner was living proof that Harvard was a needed to exist wasteland for those disemboweled by others in like fields. He spent most of his life tied to Harvard in some ways.

    Thus our President today thinks and believes to some extent that Harvard is the only way to have heaven on earth. So I suppose in some sinister way he is right he has a Nobel prize and gets attention where ever he goes, has got more money than he could ever spend and take breaks right in the heat of battles. He is of the understanding that when surrounding himself with the likes of other Harvard graduates they have got his back. And if the absolute truth were known he is right on.

    So must we totally forget Republican Democrat at this time in our history and start to think more about HARVARD OR NO HARVARD. Does that mean that all crooks come out of Harvard NO! But does that mean that the mean streaks in human beings are reinforced by the Harvard environment! YES.

    Now settle back and think how stupidly most corporations conduct their business today. Then try to get in your mind that the ones in charge are MBA’s and have belonged to social crowds that found good jobs for other want to be CEOs.

    Then, ask yourself how could the BP GANG OF THUGS THAT HAVE BEEN ON OUR TURF ever had a good idea how to save the day? Impossible they were never in an environment where engineering savvy drove the train.

    Last thought —–BEWARE WHO YOU REVERE

  2. Dwight Baker says:

    Being perplexed just goes with the territory
    By Dwight Baker
    July 19, 2010

    That territory is called Forbidden Fruitvale that is a land that many run too to try their best to get their flesh senses worked up a bit. For each time a lie, deceit, act of treachery or even worse things is done the one doing must get some kind of satisfaction for doing thus the run too Forbidden Fruitvale to get that special rub in their flesh senses that gives a bit of reprieve.

    See folk’s sin works that way. Day in and day out and those that sin often needs lost of flesh sense rubdowns. Thus who does not remember all the stuff that has gone on in our generational history that proves that to be true?

    Going to Forbidden Fruitvale is desired for the burning lust in a man or woman’s groins that drives them near insane. They have no other choice than dive off into the wicked scornful abyss to try and find more pleasure to try and dismiss the wickedness done. Even if for a brief encounter of Forbidden pleasure the act itself begets in them old memories of another gone by time.

    Some might asks Dwight could that be true? You bet it is and for sure it has been going on since man and woman discovered the act in defiance of violating and breaking Gods Laws.

    1. Pagan priest have delighted in eating a beating heart cut from a young boy!
    2. David Rockefeller it has been said and even proved —- that he delights in eating small boys fingers then inflicting the final fatal blow to end their little lives.
    3. The ravages of a sin sick out of bounds man or woman in love with self and self only has no boundaries what so ever.
    4. That is seen today in Afghanistan among the high level dope smuggling gunrunning perverts who prefer little boys. And to get that done they buy them at about the age of 6 or 7 and train them to dance as a woman and give them pleasures so deviant it can not be said then when about 22 or a bit older the time to kill them comes along and on and on it goes.
    5. I was sent pictures from a minister in the D.R. Congo that shows just how bad it gets, when lawless men become mercenaries and take out who and when they will to appease their sin sick worthless lives.
    6. Where I live in Eagle Pass Tx, a young girl walking from Mexico to shop for her mother in Eagle Pass was kidnapped and kept for days and raped so much that when found she was cut from bottom to top off by wicked perversions in assertions. She never recovered and today she sits alone gone crazy.


    Speak out speak often never let grass grow under you till you tell and tell and tell of the real horrors that are present in the many that are absent of conscience.


  3. Annie Ladysmith says:

    I am so very sick of hearing this dribble go on, and on, and on. Yes we all know that the US is run by a totalitarian oligarchy, this is such common knowledge, we do not care even what the body count is at this stage, we care about one thing and that is how to stop the fuckers from screwing us over even more.

    IF you don’t have a solution, AND don’t even live in North America THEN shut your big fat trap because we already GET IT, we don’t need another journalistic review of the problem. And actually, wherever you come from, make it your job to work on a local level to bring strikes and change before we go over the cliff.

    We are so sick of hearing about those shiney corridors in the frickin’ Pentagon. Now, what do you suppose we do about this mess??? Got a solution, I didn’t think so. Are you in a militia? I didn’t think so.
    Are you at least in a “tea party”, no, I didn’t think so. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

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